In any economy, knowing how to hire an employee with the skills and experience you need means knowing how to manage a headache. The hiring process is typically costly, sometimes disappointing and often a time suck. Today, in the challenging business environment we now operate in, that same hiring process can be downright daunting.
Sure, the talent pool for many sectors isn’t as tight as it was just a few months ago, but that means an attractive job posting will likely yield a sky-high stack of resumes to sort through. Once you settle on your top candidates, and that might take hours or even days, you’re looking at a series of phone vettings, video interviews, skills testing and reference checks. All this at a time when you’re already slammed with work and juggling the challenges of managing a remote team.
And not to pile it on, but you really need to get it right. Making a bad hire means more disruption for your team — as well as a waste of yet more valuable time and money.
So, how to hire an employee when you’re busy, stressed, distracted and just want someone good in that role right now? Glad you asked. We have five helpful suggestions, and one “Best of Show” tip, to attract and hire the talent who can deliver maximum value to your organization.
1. Focus on the job description
The COVID-19 pandemic has scrambled the economy. General unemployment figures have spiked even as some sectors still compete in a tough hiring market — and several roles are becoming ever harder to staff. Whatever the state of your hiring market, and whatever position you’re hiring for, writing a detailed, compelling job description will be critical to your success in recruiting top talent.
If it’s a new role you’re trying to staff, carefully consider the tasks you want the employee to take on in both the short term and long term, and the levels of education and experience your ideal candidate should possess. If you need to hire an employee for a vacated role, take the opportunity to evaluate whether you want to make changes to the position. Chances are you’ll want to add or shift some responsibilities, especially if the job description has not been updated recently.
As you write your job description, keep in mind that not all talent is going to be top talent. Include enough information to attract job seekers who are well-suited for the position, without being excessively long or too specific. But give enough detail, too, to discourage the under-qualified. List the skills, experience and certifications you absolutely require, and briefly say how success will be measured for the successful hire. You don’t want to spend time reviewing dozens of resumes that don’t come close to your needs, and no job seeker wants to spend time applying for a role they won’t come close to being considered for.
2. Cast a wide net
When you’re ready to start recruiting candidates, cast your net deep and wide. You want to post the opening on your website and on job boards that cater to your company’s industry, of course. But you should also share the job ad on your company’s social media accounts.
You may also want to ask your team members, as well as trusted contacts in your professional network, for referrals. They can often be a great source of promising leads, including professionals who may not be actively looking for a new job, but might be open to considering a new opportunity.
3. Don’t shortchange the resume review
Evaluating resumes and other application materials is a tedious and time-consuming part of the hiring process. But being thorough in your review is a critical step in determining whether a candidate’s qualifications align with the criteria for the available position.
During your review, look for keywords and phrases that match those in the job description. This will show whether the candidate studied your posting and took the effort to speak directly to your needs. Carefully review candidates’ technical skills, but also look for evidence of their soft skills, be it in the clarity of their writing (as demonstrated in their resume and cover letter), or in the details of their professional history (experience presenting at team meetings, for example, or in cross-departmental collaboration).
Finally, consider how impactful the job seeker was at their current or past role. Do they clearly explain the added value they brought and how they helped meet company goals? Don’t shortchange yourself here. You want to hire an employee who can slide into your open role and make a difference from the get-go.
4. Go deep in the interviews
As you did when reviewing resumes, zero in on both technical know-how and interpersonal qualities during the job interview. Open-ended and hypothetical interview questions allow the candidate to discuss their experience and skills, while giving you opportunity to assess their analytical and verbal skills, tact (how they talk about a current or past employer, for example), diplomacy (how they describe interactions with other teams) and other soft skills. Stay friendly, stay engaged, and ask follow-up questions when you need to.
Pay attention, too, to how well the candidate prepared for the interview by testing their knowledge of your company and industry. You can’t expect them to have read your annual report or know the full history of your company, but they should have an understanding of and appreciation for the firm’s mission and product. Aim to hire an employee who embraces the company, not just the job and paycheck.
While your conversations will naturally take different courses, be sure to ask all candidates the same general questions to keep the playing field level. And explain what makes your company and its corporate culture special. Remember, interviews are a two-way street: You want to find the most qualified person for the job, but a candidate will want to be equally excited about joining the team.
5. Determine the right salary range
In any business environment, offering a competitive compensation package is key to attracting top talent. By consulting resources like Robert Half’s annual Salary Guides, you can ensure your starting pay ranges are on par with, or better than, what your competitors are offering. You can also use our Salary Calculator to easily adjust those national average salary ranges for your market.
Even in a hurting economy, a candidate is going to take a day or two to consider a job offer. There also may be some back-and-forth negotiation, especially if you’re trying to secure a highly skilled and experienced professional or staff a specialized position. Be patient and be fair: You don’t want to hire an employee who will be anything but delighted to start their first day on the job. Once the candidate has accepted, make it clear that the final offer is contingent upon any reference or background checks you need to complete.